Good choice, McNeese.
Surprising, but a good choice nevertheless.
I know for sure it looks a whole lot better to just cancel the football season and wait until the spring than to do a farce fall-money grab.
I'm just still a little shocked
After all, here I was all set to defend the Cowboys, no matter how many times you had to swallow hard and look the other way to come to grips with what would have been, in effect, a one-game fall season just to collect a bit over $200,000 for a season opener (and fall-closer) against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Make no mistake, that's all that was ever on the table for McNeese for the fall — one game against ULL.
The optics wouldn't have looked good to play it, but I would have understood. Tough times call for tough calls. You do what you have to do in a pandemic, forget the aesthetics.
Why else do you think the Southland Conference left open the option for a "limited" fall nonconference schedule?
Yeah, bingo — money.
Schools were insisting on it, some more than others.
I still don't like the Football Championship Subdivision athletic business model that depends on getting paid to play football mismatches just to fund the entire laundry list of athletics.
But it's the reality and I don't have a better plan.
And I don't really buy into Thursday's standard "advice of our medical advisers" as the main reason for McNeese not playing at all in the fall.
It's a nice, safe fallback. Hard to argue with.
Even social media has trouble pointing fingers when the safety of the young student-athletes is brought into it.
And for a full season, yes. In the Bowl Subdivision, the financial and logistical hardship of doing all the proper COVID-19 testing would probably be too much to handle for the long haul.
But I'd bet McNeese, any other FCS school, could pony up to enough get it done safely for this one game — or realize well in advance that they couldn't.
Of course, the usual August routine would be to prepare for an entire season, with all the sweat and effort and whatever expense is involved.
All that to play one stinking game? Even against a school that the Cowboys and especially their fans would love to play?
Let's be honest. It drops all pretense. That's not a fall season, it's fall fundraiser.
Let the fraternities and sororities handle that, socially distanced of course.
Maybe a car wash. A few barbecues.
But it makes little sense to go to all that trouble for one game that, instead of a grudge match against an archrival, would likely have the feel of an exhibition.
Even the NFL canceled those.
Let others do what they may. Some in the Southland have already declared they'll do the fall cash grab to one degree or another.
They'll get no argument from me.
All along I've cautioned, sometimes argued, that this is going to be a crazy, whacked-out, jumbled-up season. You'll have to accept that up front, be patient, keep an open mind.
Just because somebody kicks off doesn't mean the old normal is back.
Some of it might have to be made up as they go along. Flexibility is a virtue, corners may have to be cut — non-medical, of course — to get a season in.
And don't be bringing any asterisks around here.
It is what it is: college football making do as best it can.
The spring, when the Southland plans to play its conference schedule on assurances that some version of the FCS playoffs will be played, should be interesting.
You can argue about what the Pac-12 and Big Ten are doing.
But the spring makes a whole lot more sense, in a no-brainer sort of way, for the FCS.
That was obvious ever since it became clear this was not going to be an ordinary football season.
And who's going to tell them no?
But double-dipping with a fall game or two to make it a split-season does kind of cross the line.
McNeese would have played ULL and then had a five- or six-month open date before conference started.
Play in the fall if you can. Or in the spring if you must.
But having both doesn't seem to fit the spirit of the plucky, can-do approach.
I don't think it's what the football gods had in mind when they were talking about exploring other options.
It's like telling Major League Baseball that, yes, we understand, do whatever you have to do to give us a season — then you turn your back for one minute and suddenly they're starting all their extra innings with a free runner on second base.
But, OK, OK. I'm biting my lip, trying to calm down. Not saying a word. Better than no baseball at all.
Same with football. We can all look the other way no matter what they're forced to do.
But, for McNeese, good job. No fall football is better than faux fall football.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org